Students prepare for the “Great Thanksgiving Listen” with their grandparents
Students prepare for the “Great Thanksgiving Listen” with their grandparents Gabriella Rinehart interviews great-grandmother Mae Ridge on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in the kitchen of Ridge's home in Leitersburg, Md. (AP Photo/David Dishneau)
Students prepare for the “Great Thanksgiving Listen” with their grandparents
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The sage advice "listen to your elders" has new meaning for thousands of kids this Thanksgiving.
After weeks of classroom training, they're prepared to interview a grandparent or elder. They will be posing questions such as, "How would you like to be remembered?" or "Has your life been different from what you imagined?"
Then they share those intimate conversations with the world through an unmatched effort conceived by the nonprofit oral history project StoryCorps.
StoryCorps president and founder Dave Isay calls it the "Great Thanksgiving Listen." It is a unifying moment for the nation. He hopes to double the 65,000 audio recordings StoryCorps has collected since 2003 in one long weekend.
"This is for future generations to hear," Isay said. "It's a gift to be listened to in this way. And it's a gift to share your story and wisdom."
The recordings are stored in a publicly accessible archive.  It is at the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center in Washington. Recordings made for the Thanksgiving project can be heard on  It's a website that also contains the free smartphone app students will use to record and upload their interviews.
Gabriella Rinehart is a senior at Washington County Technical High School in Hagerstown, Maryland.  She plans to interview her 89-year-old great-grandmother, Mae Ridge.
"She's lived through a lot of big changes in U.S. history," Rinehart said.
Rinehart's teacher is Carol Mowen.  She hopes her students will be "overwhelmed by the power of the story." That's how Mowen said she often feels listening to edited versions of StoryCorps interviews.  They are aired weekly on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition."
"As an English teacher, that's what we live for," she said.
In Chicago, Yuliza Ruiz plans to interview her older brother, Emilio.  She wants him to talk about his decision to join the Marines.
"I want to ask him about his goals," she said.
Some kids already have posted interviews, which can run up to 40 minutes long. Listening to them is like eavesdropping on conversations that can enlighten and surprise.
Claude Gange, of Warwick, Rhode Island, said he and his wife Camille told their 13-year-old granddaughter, Lauren Bonner, things they never shared with her before. He told her about the last time he saw his mother alive in Brooklyn.  It was two days before she was killed by a car.
The conversation deepened his relationship with his granddaughter, said Gange. He is a retired school administrator. "I'm not just a grandfather. I'm a person."
Annabelle Tipps, of Henderson, Texas, interviewed her mom, Deborah. She learned how her mother and her siblings dealt with their parents' divorce.
"A lot of questions led to questions that opened up a lot of doors that I didn't even know were there," said Annabelle, 14.
Annabelle's advice to others: "Just do 'em before you forget or before it's too late because they're really cool and it's something you can have forever."

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What is gained by recording the voices of older people instead of merely writing down their words?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • annabel1226-yyca
    11/30/2015 - 07:33 p.m.

    I think it is a great idea to listen to your grandparents. I think it is a great idea because you get to listen to your grandparents stories when they were little. Also you will get to know they do for Thanksgiving when they were little. I wish every students could listen to their grandparents stories. I hope that my grandma won't tell boring stories. I wish that she could come to my house and tell her stories when she was little.

  • myas-wes
    12/01/2015 - 02:35 p.m.

    If you record the words the person or people don't know you are doing anything but talking to them . They also may not tell you everything you ask if you tell the you were doing it for public.

  • aliciac-4-bar
    12/02/2015 - 04:56 p.m.

    An oral storyteller's voice can tell a lot about their story than simple words on paper. One's voice reflects their feelings and emotions regarding what's happening in their tale, therefore providing further insight to the reader.

  • samuelr-2-bar
    12/03/2015 - 11:39 p.m.

    Many things are gained by listening to the voices of older people rather than just reading what they wrote. One major thing that is gained is the ability to hear passion within the elder's voice. When somebody is very passionate about something they have a certain way of describing it and speaking about it that anyone can sense. If they were to just right it down on paper that passion would not be transferred over to the reader. Another thing that is gained by listening rather than reading is the ability to connect to the elder or story teller. Listening to the persons voice can provide a deeper connection between the listener and the story teller. The connection between readers and writers is not nearly as great due to the fact that there are only so many details and descriptive words that can be used. When somebody is talking the listener can make an amazing connection between what they are saying and how they are saying it. In summary the two things that are gained by listening and not reading are the ability to hear passion and the ability to connect on a much deeper level than reading.

  • aariannaroly-
    12/04/2015 - 09:37 a.m.

    I think that it is a good thing that you can talk to grandparents and ask them what they plan for the future

  • aariannaroly-
    12/04/2015 - 09:38 a.m.

    well if you ask them im going to interview you for everyone to see they may not like that

  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    12/06/2015 - 10:48 a.m.

    This is really cool! It's always better to hear the person's voice instead of writing their words. Even when you text, it's sometimes hard to figure out when sarcasm or humor is being implied. It's just as hard to know when someone is being serious.

  • shaynak-sta
    12/07/2015 - 02:34 p.m.

    I thought that this article was interesting when they were listening to people talk about their story.

  • izzer-sta
    12/07/2015 - 02:38 p.m.

    I think this is a interesting topic because usually you would interview someone that you don't really know.

  • gretchenl-sta
    12/07/2015 - 03:13 p.m.

    I think this was a very good story with lots of twists and turns. I also think this story was confusing. I
    did not get the story because the story was first talking about one thing and then talking about another. At least that´s what I felt.

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